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GlobalPost Examines GEMS Study, Need To Address 2nd Most Common Parasite Causing Diarrhea

GlobalPost’s “Pulse” blog examines the Global Enterics Multi-center Study (GEMS), “the largest and most in-depth research project examining diarrheal disease in the developing world to date.” Published in The Lancet in May, GEMS found that “just four pathogens are responsible for the majority of moderate-to-severe diarrhea cases,” and while the “virus that topped the list — rotavirus — has long been regarded as a formidable foe …, the second most common contributor to diarrheal disease was a parasite called cryptosporidium, which has, up to this point, been considered more of a nuisance than a lethal threat to all but the severely immune compromised.” The blog notes, “While there is a vaccine for rotavirus, a weapon against cryptosporidium isn’t even in the pipeline.”

“The research is so sparse that the World Health Organization’s Initiative for Vaccine Research, while it tracks progress toward a vaccine for all three of the other top killers, doesn’t mention cryptosporidium,” according to “Pulse,” which adds, “There is only one approved drug to treat it and it does not work well on infants, who represent the lion’s share of diarrhea deaths.” The blog continues, “Many diarrhea deaths occur, not because of a lack of science, but because children don’t have access to existing medical solutions. More than half of the children who died during the GEMS study died at home” (Stuart, 8/20).